South Africa president Ramaphosa to visit violence ‘epicentre’ KZN today
South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo by PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
SOUTH African president Cyril Ramaphosa was set to visit the country’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province on Friday (16) as days of violence rocked the southern African nation following the imprisonment of his predecessor Jacob Zuma for the contempt of a court.
KZN, from where Zuma hails, has been the epicentre of the deadly violence that has shaken the country over the past one week.
Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement that the president “will undertake an oversight visit to… KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), to assess the impact of recent public violence and the deployment of security forces”.
It will be the first visit by the South African president to KZN since the violence started after Zuma, accused of corruption, began a 15-month jail term for refusing to testify to a commission investigating graft under his tenure. The supporters of Zuma, who commands support from some of South Africa’s poor, resorted to violence in protest.
Mobs were seen vandalising shops and warehouses in KZN and Johannesburg in what is considered the worst violence since the end of apartheid three decades ago. At least 117 people were reportedly killed, pushing the Ramaphosa administration to deploy 25,000 troops to restore normalcy. It is reportedly the second largest military call-up in the history of democratic South Africa, AFP reported.
“The president will interact with the provincial government and security forces,” his office said.
Defence, security and police ministers along with top army generals were in KZN on Thursday (15) to assess the situation and oversee the expanded deployment of troops.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in Ramaphosa’s office, said while the situation was relatively calm in Johannesburg, that in KZN continued to be volatile.
Earlier this week, president Ramaphosa spoke on the violence and destruction of property in Cape Town in which he expressed deep concern, especially over the outbreak of the violence when South Africa’s vaccination programme against the Covid-19 pandemic had just started gaining momentum.